Whitt's End: 6.10.11
Whether you've reached the end of your rope or merely the end of your week, welcome to Whitt's End:
*In 31 years of basketball, the Dallas Mavericks have won a combined (regular season and playoffs) 1,349 games. One more in Miami either Sunday or Tuesday and they are NBA Champions.
*History suggests the Mavs need to win Game 6. The last team to win an NBA Finals Game 7 on the road was Dick Motta's Washington Bullets, over the Seattle Supersonics way back in 1978.
*If this year feels like last year, that's because it's eerily similar. In the 2010 Finals the Boston Celtics lost Game 1 to the Lakers in L.A., then won Game 2 to even the series. At home with three games, the Celtics lost Game 3 but then won 4 and 5 to take a 3-2 lead heading back to the west coast. But Boston, with two games to win one, lost Game 6 by 22 points and fell in an ugly Game 7, 83-79. Here's hoping the Mavs scrap that script.
*With a 3-2 lead and in Dallas before Game 6 in 2006, then-Heat coach Pat Riley famously boasted: "I packed one suit, one shirt and one tie." Wonder if the Mavs are confidently packing light?
*Fitting that Jason Terry sealed Game 5 with a 3-pointer -- the biggest jumper in franchise history -- from the right wing at the Miami end of the court. Very near the same spot he front-rimmed a potential game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer of Game 6 of the 2006 Finals. I'll say it again: Terry has to be good for the Mavs to be great. And boy was he ever Thursday night. Not just the crunch-time jumpers, but also blowing by LeBron James off the dribble before penetrating into the lane and kicking out to Jason Kidd for a wide-open 3-pointer and a 105-100 lead.
*Bad news: The Mavs' 2011 plans have fallen apart. Caron Butler left early. Roddy Beaubois never arrived. Brendan Haywood left late. The replacements for Butler -- Peja Stojakovic and Corey Brewer -- are absolute non-factors. Remind me again how the Mavs are on the verge of pulling this off.
*Very Mavs-ish today, but on the Cowboys' front, how about a juicy name for if and when the NFL gets unlocked. Stud safety is working out daily at the Michael Johnson Performance Center in McKinney these days, telling anyone who'll listen that he'll be a Cowboy in 2011. That player? Oakland Raiders' free-agent safety Michael Huff. I'm down with that. Big time.
*Speaking of the Cowboys, Miles Austin was at Mavs-Heat Game 5. And Dez Bryant's advisor -- David Wells -- was lunching at Hooters in the West End Thursday afternoon. Sans the receiver.
*Still baffled by LeGone James. In "the most important game of my life," he produces a triple-double but only two points in the fourth quarter. For the series in the fourth quarter he's scored 5, 2, 2, 0 and 2 points. He's now been outscored in the fourth by Dirk, 52-11.
*You can potentially excuse James' minimal impact on personal problems, perhaps a scallywag girlfriend. But I remember a dude playing through major almost-fiancee problems in 2009. Goes by the name of Dirk Nowitzki. And during his crisis he averaged 34 points and 11 rebounds.
*The Mavs made 13 3-pointers in a Finals game and not a one of them by Peja Stojakovic. This team never ceases to amaze.
*As for the Rangers, Endy Chavez looks like a late-blooming keeper in center and in AA Frisco, top prospect Leonys Martin has smacked three homers and is hitting above .350. In other words, Julio Borbon better get his shit together. Quick.
*Let me take this opportunity to publicly apologize to J.J. Barea. Once upon a time I doubted him. Called him a novelty act. Said that no team with a realistic chance of winning an NBA title would ever give him quality minutes. Wrote that he was the reverse-identical version of Shawn Bradley. On all fronts I was dead wrong. Barea dominated the Lakers series and changed Game 5 of The Finals with his penetration and four 3-pointers.
*In the Mavs' three victories in The Finals they've produced finishing runs of 22-5, 21-9 and 17-4.
*That rumbling you hear deep beneath the surface but seemingly getting stronger by the day is Mount Cuban, ready to violently erupt in vociferous celebration and dissertation should his team finally win a championship. And you know what? The Mavs' owner will deserve to gloat. Let's face it, Cuban has had a great postseason. By great, I mean appropriately quiet.
*Dallas is 15-5 in the playoffs, and has won six of its last seven games on the road.
*In the Mavs' post-game locker room exchanging high-fives and cell numbers with players: New Jersey Nets and former The Colony star Deron Williams.
*Yeah, but what if the Mavs take their talents and their lead to South Beach and drop two in a row? I think losing a 3-2 lead in '11 might sting even more than losing a 2-0 lead in '06. If that's possible.
*During The Finals there is a journalist covering the series from Al Jazeera TV. Shouldn't be a big deal, but I'll admit I looked the guy up and down. Looking for what exactly, I dunno. Profiling? Guilty.
*Mavs in 6. Yeah, I'm sticking with it. Being this close to the finish line is unchartered territory for the Mavericks. But I was as impressed with the reaction after Game 5 as I was the play on the court. Dallas was all business, walking off the court happy but not outwardly expressive or giddy. This team -- led by battle-scarred Rick Carlisle and Dirk and Kidd -- has an uncanny knack for staying in the moment.
*This weekend: Texas Motor Speedway today for some IRL 200+ mph fun. Saturday it's back to Miami for the NBA Finals. Even in South Beach, don't be a stranger.
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